Tag: Portland OR

Patrick Phillips is a Portland, OR-born, Los Angeles, CA-based singer/songwriter, DJ and multi-instrumentalist, and creative mastermind behind the dream pop/indie pop/psych pop recording project Water Slice. In some way, the project can trace its origins back to when Philips realized that his life in Portland was beginning to closely resemble an unending Portlandia sketch as he worked at a hip gastropub, played packed local gigs and DJ’ed obscure African music. With that realization, Phillips decide it was time to leave Portland, eventually relocating to Los Angeles. In 2014, he moved into an idyllic artist house located in the hills of the Echo Park section — and as the story goes, Phillips would spend a great deal of time on the house’s rooftop, overlooking the city’s landscape in the shade of a  giant rubber tree, contemplating life and writing songs, partially influenced by his surroundings.

During his first month in town, Phillips met James Supercave‘s Joaquin Pastor and spent the next 2 years as that band’s bassist. After leaving James Supercave, the Portland-born, Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist had time to process his past life in Portland and to dive back into his record collection of power-pop, post-punk and world psychedelia — and this period was for him, the definitive spark that led him to write his own material under the moniker Water Slice. Of course, the material he had begun to write drew deeply from his own personal experience — particularly, a lengthy romantic relationship that dissolved and friendships that fell by the wayside (as many do), and the lingering ache and confusion of a past that’s continually just out of reach and the acceptance of a present that barely makes sense.

With the release of “This Way,” the first single off his forthcoming self-titled debut EP, slated for an August 10, 2018 release, Philips quickly received attention for a sound that pairs buoyant and breezy grooves with dark lyrical content. As Philips told Ones to Watch, “Many of my favorite tunes, whether post-punk, power-pop, or reggae, are stories of suffering, while staying undeniably groovy. I love this contrast of heavy lyrics with otherwise sunny music, and I kept this tradition in mind when writing ‘This Way.’ At the time I was stuck deep in a rut, ‘This Way’ is about accepting my flaws and pushing into the future with the people I love.” Interestingly, the EP’s second and latest single “Please Remember” is the only track produced by Gus Seyffert, best known for his work with Roger Waters, Beck, The Black Keys, Dr. Dog and James Supercave, and while the single will further cement Philips’ growing reputation for crafting breezy and buoyant pop with a wistful and nostalgic air; but there’s also an underlying acceptance and celebration of how life seems to constantly shift around you, forcing you to shift lanes, change direction  or stop whatever it was you were doing In the first place. After all, no one really has an answer to anything and nothing really works the way it’s supposed to — and yet, we usually find a way.

 

 

 

 

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New Video: The Breezy and Summery Visuals and Sounds of Wooden Shjjips’ Road Trip Anthem “Already Gone”

Over the past couple of months, I’ve written a bit about the renowned San Francisco, CA-based psych rockers Wooden Shjips, and as you may recall, although the act is currently comprised of founding member and primary songwriter Ripley Johnson (guitar, vocals), Dusty Jermier (trumpet, bass), Omar Ahsanuddin (drums) and Nash Whalen (organ), the band can trace their origins back to 2003 when Johnson started the band with the intention of finding a group of non-musicians and creating music with them, centered by the underlying idea that untrained musicians would have a different outlook on what music is and how it’s played, essentially bringing something fresh to to the table in a fashion reminiscent of the garage rockers of the early 60s, the  Velvet Underground and 70s punk rockers did. As the story goes, Dusty Jermier, one of the longest tenured members of the band was originally recruited to play saxophone, an instrument he had never picked up before while members of earlier iterations of the band frequently had such a lack of interest in playing live for anyone that the band didn’t bother looking for gigs. 
Eventually, the band settled to its current lineup but with different intentions. Johnson, who’s a fan of largely impenetrable albums and arcane, small-press poetry books was fascinated by the idea of books that went unread or became largely out of favor and/or of print that were rediscovered by collectors or some bored critic looking for something different, and praised for being lost and under-appreciated gems. The band had purposely set out to make obscure albums that Johnson envisioned randomly leaving in libraries, thrift store margin bins and on park benches. Eschewing a MySpace page, a Soundcloud account or a website with MP3 downloads, the band gave away a limited pressing of 300 copies of their debut 10 inch vinyl album, paying the shipping costs for out of town requests — and unexpectedly, the album received some rave reviews, including one from Rolling Stone, which raised the album’s cachet and the band’s profile, thanks in part to a sound that the band has described as “a minimal, droning kind of garage band-influenced psychedelia with a noticeable 60s Krautrock influence” with some comparing the band to Suicide, The Velvet Underground, The Doors, Soft Machine and Guru Guru.

Building upon the growing buzz surrounding them, the members of Wooden Shjips released 2006’s “Dance California”/”Clouds Over the Earthquake,” to mark the centennial of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, which sold enough for the band to break even on their investment, and “Summer of Love 2007,” a single inspired by groups, who worked to make the world the kind of place they wanted to live in, like the Diggers, a local anarchist collective that founded the first Free Store and served free meals in Golden State Park to any and all comers, and the proceeds from the single went to the charitable foundation Food Not Bombs. Adding to a growing profile, the band’s second, real gig found them opening for the psych rock legend Roky Erickson.

The band’s self-produced and self-recorded full-length debut was recorded in the band’s rehearsal space, using a half-inch eight-track console that Jermier found, making the album a strictly analog affair aimed at getting high-quality and high-fidelity on an extremely low budget. Some tracks were layered-up demos while others were live studio jams with drum parts adding later, since they only had two tracks of the drums and no way to keep instruments from bleeding into each other noisily. But despite — or perhaps because of its DIY fashion, the album was released to critical applause that lead to the “Loose Lips”/”Start to Dreaming” 7 inch released by Sub Pop Records. Since then, the band has released three more full-length albums, 2009’s Dos, 2011’s West, 2013’s Back to Land and two compilations 2008’s Volume 1 and 2010’s Volume 2 — and they’ve managed this while the band’s Johnson has been busy with his acclaimed side project Moon Duo, with Sanae Yamada that has released four full-length albums and one EP.  Interestingly, V, the Bay Area-based psych rock band’s fifth full-length album and first album in over five years, finds the band reportedly expanding upon their sound while lightening the overall vibes, with the material being decidedly laid back, almost summery jams. 

Written last summer, Johnson has publicly said that he has viewed the material as a necessary antidote to the pervasive political anxiety and apocalyptic panic of American life; in fact, as Johnson says in press notes,“We had huge forest fires just outside of Portland and there was intense haze and layers of ash in the city. I was sitting on my porch every evening, watching ash fall down like snow, the sky looking like it was on fire. It was an apocalyptic feeling. Summer in Portland is usually really chill and beautiful, and we were working on a ‘summer record,’ but the outside world kept intruding on my headspace.” V., a graphic representation of the Peace sign, seemed apt to an album focused on the power of peace, beauty and resistance. The music is a balm against the noise and negativity.” 

V’s first single ““Staring at the Sun” featured a shimmering guitar pop sound with a steady groove reminiscent of Buffalo Springfield‘s “For What It’s Worth” and Psychic Ills‘ Inner Journey Out, and “Red Line,” its shoegazer rock meets classic psych rock-inspired follow up single may strike listeners and fans as a bit of return to form, as it features a hypnotic groove — while much like its predecessor, emphasizing slowing, down and pressing the reset button in a world gone absolutely mad. The album’s latest single is the twangy, Buffalo Springfield and Neil Young and Crazy Horse-like “Already Gone” — with a subtle twist to the proceedings, twinkling synths reminiscent of Who Are You-era The Who; but regardless of its influences, it’s the perfect road trip song, as it possesses an overwhelmingly optimistic view, centered on the possibility of new adventures, new friends, of transformation, of being lost and found within the double lines. Unsurprisingly, the recently released video begins with the band’s Johnson getting his bike to ride to the band’s studio space on a glorious day — much like today here in New York — to meet the rest of the band. And of course, they play some hackeysack together — because they’re hippies. But all is right and glorious: bullshitting with your friends and playing music is necessary in a world that’s mad. It’s sometimes the only thing you’ve got. 

New Audio: Soft Kill Releases a Gorgeous and Deeply Personal Meditation on Life and Death

With the release of 2015’s Heresy and 2016’s acclaimed Choke, the members of Portland, OR-based post punk act Soft Kill, currently comprised of Tobias Grave (vocals/guitar/synths), Conrad Vollmer (guitar), Owen Glendower (bass) and Adam Bulgasem (drums) had spent a an increasing amount of time on the road; in fact, they have been on rather extensive touring cycle through North America and Europe to support Choke. Interestingly enough, the band announced a series Pacific Northwest tour dates with Harms Way, just as they officially dropped their latest album Savior.  

Savior may be the most personal album the band has ever written and recorded, as much of the writing was inspired by a real life experience: as the band was returning from tour, Tobias Grave’s pregnant wife began to bleed out in the van. She was eight months pregnant, and practically in the middle of nowhere, far from a hospital or any other medical facility. The band raced through the night, eventually winding up in the emergency room of Sacramento’s UC Davis Trauma Center, where surgery was performed to try to save the lives of both the mother and the then-unborn child. Although the surgery went well, the baby’s lung collapsed on his second day of life causing him to flatline. Grave was forced to standby and watch as doctors and nurses struggled to keep his newborn son alive with a series of blood transfusions, breathing and feeding tubes. As his vigil turned into weeks, he purchased a guitar, borrowed a bass from a friend and began to write the material that wound up becoming Savior. Thematically speaking, the songs focused on loss and hurt — the tragic loss of his newborn son, his long battle with drug addiction, the tragedies and heartaches of life, the weirdly empty and ambivalent space between mourning and celebration, life and death that we all know far too well. In many ways, the album is written about a man, who has come to grips with the reflection of themselves, as seen in the eyes of their dying son — and as you’ll hear on the shimmering album single “Hard Candy,” the material manages to possess the palpable weight of devastating and senseless loss, and the acceptance of what it means to the song’s narrator and his life, making the song a gorgeous and mournful meditation on life and deat

New Audio: The Death Wheelers Return with a Bruising and Face Melting Single

The Canadian instrumental band The Death Wheelers, comprised of  Max “The Axe” Tremblay, Richard “The Bastard” Turcotte, Sy “Wild Rye” Tremblay and Hugo “Red Beard” Bertacchi have largely been inspired by theaesthetics and ethos of bikesploitation movies such as The Wild Angels, Werewolves on Wheels and Psychomania, as well as Davie Allen, The Cramps, Motorhead, The Stooges and Grand Funk Railroad — and the end result is incredibly sleazy, primal and downright bruising and face melting rock.

Now, as you may recall, the band’s soon-to-be released album  I Tread On Your Grave is slated for a May 11, 2018 release through RidingEasy Records, and the album was devised to serve as the soundtrack for an imaginary B-movie with an incredible plot: Decimated in 1972 by local authorities, all members of The Death Wheelers, a notorious motorcycle club, have been buried at the Surrey cemetery. After some time, the motorcycle club has risen from the grave for their last ride — and of course, they’re hungry for blood, mayhem and violence. This brutal, living dead motorcycle gang travel from coast-to-coast to find and recruit the nastiest, filthiest, trashiest individuals to join their ranks with the goal of assembling a legion of 13 discycles (disciples + cycles, of course) to see revenge on the pigs that dismantled the club and sent the dead members of the club to their graves.” Earlier this year, I wrote about “Black Crack” a raw, swampy and bluesy track that sounded like a bluesy lovechild of  ZZ Top, Howlin’ Wolf and Portland‘s R.I.P thanks to some boozy, guitar pyrotechnics and a forceful immediacy. The album’s latest single “Roadkill 69” features a hilarious sample featuring the iconoclastic actress Divine, known for her insane roles in John Waters’ legendarily perverse films as an apt introduction to a face melting bruiser that sounds as though it were written by Rob Zombie.

 

Although currently comprised of founding member and primary songwriter Ripley Johnson (guitar, vocals), Dusty Jermier (trumpet, bass), Omar Ahsanuddin (drums) and Nash Whalen (organ), the renowned San Francisco, CA-based psych rock act Wooden Shjips can trace their origins back to 2003 when Johnson started the band with the intention of finding a group of non-musicians and creating music with them — with the underlying idea behind it being that untrained players would have a new outlook on what music is and how it’s played, and as a result bring something fresh to the table in a way that many of the garage punks of the early 60s and the Velvet Underground did. In fact one of the longest tenured members of the band, Jermier was originally recruited to play saxophone, an instrument he had never even picked up before while other members from their earliest iterations often had such a lack of interest in playing live for anyone that the band didn’t bother looking for gigs.

Eventually, the band settled to its current lineup — but this time, the intention was different: Johnson, a fan of seemingly impenetrable albums and arcane, small-press poetry books, was fascinated by the idea of books that went unread or became largely out of favor and/or of print that were rediscovered by collectors or some bored critic looking for something different, and praised for being lost and under-appreciated gems. And unsurprisingly, the band set about to make purposely obscure albums that Johnson envisioned leaving in libraries, thrift store bargain bins and on park benches. Eschewing a MySpace page, a Soundcloud account or a website with MP3 downloads, the band gave away a limited pressing of 300 copies of their debut 10 inch vinyl album, paying the shipping costs for out of town requests — and unexpectedly, the album received some rave reviews, including one from Rolling Stone, which raised the album’s cachet and the band’s profile, thanks in part to a sound that the band has described as “a minimal, droning kind of garage band-influenced psychedelia with a noticeable 60s Krautrock influence” with some comparing the band to Suicide, The Velvet Underground, The Doors, Soft Machine and Guru Guru.

Building upon the growing buzz surrounding them, the members of Wooden Shjips released 2006’s “Dance California”/”Clouds Over the Earthquake,” to mark the centennial of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, which sold enough for the band to break even on their investment, and “Summer of Love 2007,” a single inspired by groups, who worked to make the world the kind of place they wanted to live in, like the Diggers, a local anarchist collective that founded the first Free Store and served free meals to Golden State Park to any and all comers with the proceeds from the single going to Food Not Bombs. Interestingly, their second real gig as a band was a single release show, opening for the psych rock legend Roky Erickson.
The band’s self-produced and self-recorded full-length debut was recorded in the band’s rehearsal space on an half-inch eight-track console that Jermier found, making the album an strictly analog affair aimed at getting high-quality and high-fidelity on an extremely low budget. Some tracks were layered up demos while others were live studio jams with drum parts added later, since they only had two tracks of the drums and no way to keep instruments from bleeding into each other noisily. But despite — or perhaps because of its DIY fashion, the album was released to critical applause that lead to the “Loose Lips”/”Start to Dreaming” 7 inch released by Sub Pop Records.Since then, the band has released three more full-length albums, 2009’s Dos, 2011’s West, 2013’s Back to Land and two compilations 2008’s Volume 1 and 2010’s Volume 2 — and they’ve managed this while the band’s Johnson has been busy with his side project Moon Duo, his acclaimed dup with Sanae Yamada that has released four full-length albums and one EP.  Interestingly, V, the Bay Area-based psych rock band’s fifth full-length album and first album in over five years, finds the band reportedly expanding upon their sound while lightening the overall vibes, with the material being decidedly laid back, almost summery jams.

 

Written last summer, Johnson viewed the material as a necessary antidote to the pervasive political anxiety and apocalyptic panic; in fact, as Johnson says in press notes,
“We had huge forest fires just outside of Portland and there was intense haze and layers of ash in the city. I was sitting on my porch every evening, watching ash fall down like snow, the sky looking like it was on fire. It was an apocalyptic feeling. Summer in Portland is usually really chill and beautiful, and we were working on a ‘summer record,’ but the outside world kept intruding on my headspace.” V., a graphic representation of the Peace sign, seemed apt to an album focused on the power of peace, beauty and resistance. The music is a balm against the noise and negativity.”
 Now, as you may recall V’s first single “Staring at the Sun” was an expansive and shimmering guitar pop sound with a steady groove that seemed as though it owed a big sonic debut to Buffalo Springfield‘s “For What It’s Worth” and Psychic Ills‘ Inner Journey Out; however, V‘s latest single “Red Line” is a bit of a return to form, with the band nodding at both classic psych rock and contemporary shoegaze as the track is centered around droning instrumentation and a propulsive and hypnotic, motorik like groove. But much like its predecessor, the band emphasizes slowing, down and pressing the reset button in a world gone absolutely mad.

The band is currently touring to support their forthcoming fifth album, and you can check out the tour dates below.

Tour Dates:

 

April 20 – Half Moon Bay, CA – Old Princeton Landing [tickets]

April 21 – Santa Cruz – Michael’s On Main [tickets]

April 29 – Austin, TX – Levitation Festival

May 25 – Portland, OR – Mississippi Studios [tickets]

May 26 – Seattle, WA – Crocodile [tickets]

June 1 – Nelsonville, OH – Nelsonville Music Festival

June 2 – Chicago, IL – Empty Bottle [tickets]

June 4 – Detroit, MI – Marble Bar [tickets]

June 5 – Toronto, ON – Horseshoe Tavern [tickets]

June 7 – Los Angeles, CA – The Lodge [tickets]

June 9 – Sonoma, CA – Huichica Music Festival

New Video: Up-and-Coming American-born, Swedish-based Pop Artist Rhys Releases Cinematic Visuals for Swaggering Tell Off “No Vacancy”

Born to an American father and Swedish mother in Portland, OR, the up-and-coming pop artist Rhys grew up as a natural performer, singing, dancing and acting as long as she could remember — but when she turned ten, she moved to Sweden, where she crossed paths with Jörgen Elofsson in early 2016 after being recommended as a demo singer. And as the story goes Elofsson and Rhys had an immediately artistic chemistry that lead to her debut single “Swallow Your Pride,” which she promptly followed with her viral, smash hit “Last Dance,” which has amassed over 23 million Spotify streams, and was the most-played Swedish song of 2017 on P3 Radio. Adding to a growing national profile, the American-born, Swedish-based pop artist was nominated an Artist of the Future at the P3 Gold award show.

Rhys followed her smash hit single with “Too Good To Be True,” which amassed 14 million Spotify streams, and with the growing buzz around her, landed sets at festivals like Way Out West and Storsjöyran among others. Building upon that, she’s planning a busy touring schedule throughout the spring and summer, including sets at Gröna Lund, Queens of Pop and Peace & Love. Rhys’ latest single “No Vacancy” is a swaggering and incredible self-assured tell-off, that “is about a very specific person, who had been toying with my emotions for a little too long,” Rhys told The Fader.”Ironically, my current boyfriend. This song is about drawing the line, me or them.”

“Everything is great now, but I would say he was a bit of a player when we started seeing each other,” she continues. “Parts of the text are direct quotes from him, so I think I should thank him for that – he gave me a good song! When I wrote it we were already together and I said ‘Today I will write a song about you, it will be so nice!’ Then I came home and said, ‘yes, I wrote a song about you … but it might not be so nice.'”

Directed by Indra Herö Wide, the cinematically shot video stars a coquettish and proud Rhys preparing for a momentous tell off to the unseen womanizer she’s attached to — an throughout, you can tell that she’s not having it, and is perfectly fine being herself if the man doesn’t shape up and act right. And while it’s directly a feminist anthem, it’s certainly something that young women will immediately associate with and take to heart.

New Audio: Portland’s Blackwater Holylight Returns with a Trippy and Expansive Take on 60s Psych Rock

Over the past couple of months, I’ve written a bit about the Portland, OR-based rock act Blackwater Holylight, and as you may recall, the band comprised of founding member Allison “Sunny” Faris (vocals, bass),  Laura Hopkins (guitar, vocals), Cat Hoch (drums) and Sarah McKenna (synth), the band, which can trace its origins to when one of Faris’ previous bands broke up, and she wanted to begin experiment what her own version of what “heavy” should and could be both sonically and emotionally with the primary aim to celebrate vulnerability all of its forms. But along with that, as Faris explains in in press notes, because she was the only female in her previous band, she wanted to see how her “songwriting and vulnerability could glow taking the drivers seat, and working with women.” 

RidingEasy Records will be releasing Blackwater Holylight’s self-titled review on April 6, 2018 and from the Breeders-like alt rock meets shoegaze “Sunrise,” and the Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath heavy, power chord dirge and strident, feminist anthem “Wave of Conscience,” the Portland-based quartet have shown that their material draws from a wide array of sources with a piss and vinegar-fueled, kick ass and take names sort of self-assuredness. And unsurprisingly, the album’s latest single “Willow” continues in a similar vein while being their most expansive and most 60s psych rock-inspired song they’ve released from the album to date, as the band shifts tempo and mood while centered around some explosive guitar pyrotechnics and ethereal harmonies. 

New Audio: The Death Wheelers Release a Sleazy and Ass Kicking Single

Comprised of Max “The Axe” Tremblay, Richard “The Bastard” Turcotte, Sy “Wild Rye” Tremblay and Hugo “Red Beard” Bertacchi, the members of  Canadian band The Death Wheelers have been largely inspired by the aesthetics and ethos of bikesploitation movies such as The Wild Angels, Werewolves on Wheels and Psychomania, as well as Davie Allen, The Cramps, Motorhead, The Stooges and Grand Funk Railroad — with the result being sleazy, primal and bruising, jam-based instrumental rock ‘n’ roll.  

Slated for a May 11, 2018 release through RidingEasy Records, the band’s forthcoming I Tread On Your Grave is an album devised to serve as the soundtrack for an imaginary B-movie with an incredible plot: Decimated in 1972 by local authorities, all members of The Death Wheelers, a notorious motorcycle club, have been buried at the Surrey cemetery. But the time has come and they have risen for their last ride. They’re back from the grave and they’re hungry for blood! Nothing can stop this gang of living dead from recruiting new members as they travel coast to coast to find the filthiest, nastiest, trashiest individuals to join their ranks. Their goal, assemble a legion of 13 “discycles” (disciples+cycles) to seek revenge on the pigs that dismantled the club and send them to their graves. The cycle of violence continues . . . ”

 
I Tread On Your Grave’s latest single “Black Crack” is a raw, swampy, bluesy track that sounds as though it were inspired by ZZ Top, Howlin’ Wolf and Portland’s R.I.P. as it features enormous power chords with some boozy guitar pyrotechnics, thundering drumming paired with a jam-band “you-are-there-in-the-room” immediacy and swagger, while evoking a sense of primal lust and danger — and holy shit, does it kick ass.

 

Although currently comprised of founding member and primary songwriter Ripley Johnson (guitar, vocals), Dusty Jermier (trumpet, bass), Omar Ahsanuddin (drums) and Nash Whalen (organ), the renowned San Francisco, CA-based psych rock act Wooden Shjips can trace their origins back to 2003 when Johnson started the band with the intention of finding a group of non-musicians and creating music with them — with the underlying idea behind it being that untrained players would have a new outlook on what music is and how it’s played, and as a result bring something fresh to the table in a way that many of the garage punks of the early 60s and the Velvet Underground did. In fact one of the longest tenured members of the band, Jermier was originally recruited to play saxophone, an instrument he had never even picked up before while other members from their earliest iterations often had such a lack of interest in playing live for anyone that the band didn’t bother looking for gigs.

Eventually, the band settled to its current lineup — but this time, the intention was different: Johnson, a fan of seemingly impenetrable albums an arcane, small-press poetry books, was fascinated by the idea of books that went unread or became largely out of favor and/or of print that were rediscovered by collectors or some bored critic looking for something different, and praised for being lost and under-appreciated gems. And unsurprisingly, the band set about to make purposely obscure albums that Johnson envisioned leaving in libraries, thrift store bargain bins and on park benches. Eschewing a MySpace page, a Soundcloud account or a website with MP3 downloads, the band gave away a limited pressing of 300 copies of their debut 10 inch vinyl album, paying the shipping costs for out of town requests — and unexpected, the album received some rave reviews, including one from Rolling Stone, which raised the album’s cachet and the band’s profile, thanks in part to a sound that the band has described as “a minimal, droning kind of garage band-influenced psychedelia with a noticeable 60s Krautrock influence” with some comparing the band to Suicide, The Velvet Underground, The Doors, Soft Machine and Guru Guru.

Building upon the growing buzz surrounding them, the members of Wooden Shjips released 2006’s “Dance California”/”Clouds Over the Earthquake,” to mark the centennial of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, which sold enough for the band to break even on their investment, and “Summer of Love 2007,” a single inspired by groups, who worked to make the world the kind of place they wanted to live in, like the Diggers, a local anarchist collective that founded the first Free Store and served free meals to Golden State Park to any and all comers with the proceeds from the single going to Food Not Bombs. Interestingly, their second real gig as a band was a single release show, opening for the psych rock legend Roky Erickson.
The band’s self-produced and self-recorded full-length debut was recorded in the band’s rehearsal space on an half-inch eight-track console that Jermier found, making the album an strictly analog affair aimed at getting high-quality and high-fidelity on an extremely low budget. Some tracks were layered up demos while others were live studio jams with drum parts added later, since they only had two tracks of the drums and no way to keep instruments from bleeding into each other noisily. But despite — or perhaps because of its DIY fashion, the album was released to critical applause that lead to the “Loose Lips”/”Start to Dreaming” 7 inch released by Sub Pop Records.

Since then, the band has released three more full-length albums, 2009’s Dos, 2011’s West, 2013’s Back to Land and two compilations 2008’s Volume 1 and 2010’s Volume 2 — and they’ve managed this while the band’s Johnson has been busy with his side project Moon Duo, his acclaimed dup with Sanae Yamada that has released four full-length albums and one EP.  Interestingly, V, the Bay Area-based psych rock band’s fifth full-length album and first album in over five years, finds the band reportedly expanding upon their sound while lightening the overall vibes, with the material being decidedly laid back, almost summery jams.

Written last summer, Johnson viewed the material as a necessary antidote to the pervasive political anxiety and apocalyptic panic; in fact, as Johnson says in press notes,
“We had huge forest fires just outside of Portland and there was intense haze and layers of ash in the city. I was sitting on my porch every evening, watching ash fall down like snow, the sky looking like it was on fire. It was an apocalyptic feeling. Summer in Portland is usually really chill and beautiful, and we were working on a ‘summer record,’ but the outside world kept intruding on my headspace.” V., a graphic representation of the Peace sign, seemed apt to an album focused on the power of peace, beauty and resistance. The music is a balm against the noise and negativity.”
V‘s first single “Staring at the Sun” is an expansive, laid-back, shimmering delay pedal effected, guitar pop with a steady groove that sounds as though it owes a big sonic debt to Buffalo Springfield‘s “For What It’s Worth” and Psychic Ills‘ Inner Journey Out paired with a slowly building narrative centered around the gentle push and pull between the desire for sun and escape and the pressing tug of anxiety and uncertainty — with peaceful resistance to that anxiety and uncertainty winning the day and guiding the overall tone.   At one point, the song’s narrator seems to say “come on, man slow it down, daydream in the sun for a bit,” and you know what, goddamn it, the guy is right. Even in the face of a world constantly on the brink of annihilation, of a government on the verge of collapse and a social order being shredded apart, sometimes you need to push the reset button or you’ll go crazy.

 

The band will be embarking on a tour to support their newest effort and you can check out the tour dates below.

Tour Dates:

April 13 – Portland, OR – Bunk Bar [tickets]

April 14 – Bellingham, WA – Shakedown [tickets]

April 20 – Half Moon Bay, CA – Old Princeton Landing [tickets]

April 21 – Santa Cruz – Michael’s On Main [tickets]

April 29 – Austin, TX – Levitation Festival

May 25 – Portland, OR – Mississippi Studios [tickets]

May 26 – Seattle, WA – Crocodile [tickets]

June 1 – Nelsonville, OH – Nelsonville Music Festival

June 2 – Chicago, IL – Empty Bottle [tickets]

June 4 – Detroit, MI – Marble Bar [tickets]

June 5 – Toronto, ON – Horseshoe Tavern [tickets]

June 7 – Los Angeles, CA – The Lodge [tickets]

June 9 – Sonoma, CA – Huichica Music Festival

 

New Audio: Blackwater Holylight Return with a Heavy Psych Rock Dirge

Comprised of founding member, Allison “Sunny” Faris (vocals, bass), Laura Hopkins (guitar, vocals), Cat Hoch (drums) and Sarah McKenna (synth), the Portland, OR-based rock act Blackwater Holylight began as an experiment of what Faris’ own version of what “heavy” should be both sonically and emotionally. “I also wanted a band in which vulnerability of any form could be celebrated.” But interestingly, as Faris explains in press notes, her current band can trace its origins to when Faris’ longtime band split up. “In my last band, I was the only female in a group of 6, so I wanted to see how my songwriting and vulnerability could glow taking the drivers seat and working with women.”

Last month, I wrote about “Sunrise,” off the band’s self-titled debut, a single that struck me as meshing elements of Breeders-like alt rock, garage rock and swirling, towering shoegaze — but with soaring hooks, bringing to mind classic, 120 Minutes-era MTV alt rock, while eschewing familiar song structures. The album’s latest single “Wave of Conscience” is an enormous power chord-based heavy psych dirge that sounds indebted to Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath — and sonically speaking, could have easily been mistaken for a track off the incredible Brown Acid compilation series but while being a strident feminist anthem.